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Study smart & prioritize self-care

Tips for thriving during exams

April 12, 2021 — 

Whether this is your first time taking online exams, or you’ve done this before, everyone can use some strategies for studying and self care during the upcoming exam period. Don’t forget to take advantage of UM’s various resources available to you to support your health, wellness and academic success! Here are some things to consider as you focus on studying and writing your exams.

Study Smart

Sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Don’t panic, stay calm, and use these pointers to help organize your study time so you can be as productive as possible. 

  • Organize essential test materials such as readings, notes taken in class, assignment questions, practice questions and homework. 
  • Create a study schedule and pay close attention to areas that you don’t know or don’t understand, but keep in mind it’s important to also review material you know. 
  • Be prepared. Knowing what type of exam you are writing (e.g. multiple choice vs. long answer, closed vs. open book) will help you know what to expect. If you are writing an open-book exam, the questions tend to be application-based and you could waste valuable time trying to find answers that are not in the book. Prepare for this kind of exam as you would a regular exam.
  • Don’t cram. Cramming overtaxes your memory and you will end up remembering less, or even get confused about the material. 
  • Test yourself daily. Use the chapter quizzes, flash cards or create test questions for yourself. Just reading over your notes does not help you learn. Re-organize and chunk information for best results. 
  • Don’t just memorize. Understanding will ensure that you retain that material.
  • Study with others. Video chat with a classmate to review material or attend a Virtual Study Hall session through the Academic Learning Centre to study with others and learn new time-management techniques.
  • Be proactive. If you have questions, your first step should be to email your professor or teaching assistant to get the information you need. You can also get online help and other learning supports through the Academic Learning Centre. UM Libraries can also help with term papers and exams. 


To be at your best during exams, you should focus on your wellness just as much as you focus on your books. UM has many resources to support your success and help you to take care of yourself. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Find a balance. Eat healthy meals, get the rest you need, and take advantage of UM Recreation Services’ virtual health and fitness page.  
  • Get support. If you get nervous and anxious before exams you’re not alone. The Student Counselling Centre offers a full range of remote counselling services to students, including workshops
  • Develop good habits. Consult with our Health and Wellness Educator for tips on stress management and other healthy living ideas. 
  • Take regular short breaks. Getting up and moving when you’re studying can help prevent neck pain and headaches and gives your mind a rest so you can return to your work refreshed.
  • Make time for things that bring you joy and help you relax. Enjoy a hobby, take a yoga class, spend some time in nature or connect with friends and family virtually.
  • Remember to breathe. It’s a simple thing that’s easy to forget when you’re feeling stressed out. Close your eyes and count your breaths, focusing on inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.
  • Remember your self-worth and value as a person is not determined by one test score, or one exam. Regardless of how well you do on exams or in your courses, you are worthy of living a good life. This year has been one unlike any other – you are doing the best you can.

Be sure to follow @umstudent on Instagram for more exam time tips and tricks. We’ve also put together some tips for navigating online exams. You can find those here.



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